Ransomware Remains a Major Threat to All Regions

Becky Pinkard, the Vice President for Service Delivery and Intelligence Operations at Digital Shadows

Channel Post speaks to Becky Pinkard, the Vice President for Service Delivery and Intelligence Operations at Digital Shadows, about the effect of WannaCry cyber threat in the region

Have there been any instances of WannaCry attack in the region?
According to reports surfacing across Twitter and the media, the impact in the Middle East appears to have been limited and the region seems to have escaped the worst impact of WannaCry. Whether that is because fewer companies are using the effected Windows XP or other reasons we cannot be sure. Of course, if other attackers adapt the malware further that might not remain the case.

What has been the scale of infection of this ransomware threat?
Current estimates put the total at approximately 200,000 machines infected globally.

What is the state of ransomware threat in the region?
Ransomware remains a major threat to all regions and businesses and indeed consumers. It’s a relatively low risk, low cost and high return type of activity for cybercriminals. They usually rely on keeping their victims unlock costs low enough to incentivise paying up rather than face the risk of losing data. Of course, in the case of WannaCry this was much more public, but even so the amount of money involved has been small with currently only around $68,000 paid in ransoms.

How can companies and users keep themselves safe from such ransomware attacks?
They need to ensure they patch and update the software they use on a regular basis. This ransomware attack would not have been as successful if businesses has implemented the patch Microsoft issued in March. Also, its important businesses keep abreast of the digital risks and threats currently active in their industry and type of business.

That way they can be better prepared. Also, they need to do a better job educating their staff and suppliers not to click on attachments and links sent to them in emails as this is one of the most typical ways ransomware spreads. Finally, in worst case scenario, they need to ensure they have a current backup of files and data so that it can be reinstalled without serious impact on business.

How do you as a security company make sure your customers are safe from such attacks?
Digital Shadows is in the business of helping our clients manage their digital risk. We advise them of the current threats and risks they are facing based on their own unique digital footprint. In addition, we monitor forums and threat actors who are carrying out these sorts of ransomware attacks to give businesses the intelligence they need to prepare for an incident like this before it happens.